Tottenham boss Redknapp in glowing tribute to Chelsea winger Cole
Redknapp, in his column for The Sun, revealed: "I signed Joe for West Ham when he was only 11, and even now I still rate him as the best young player I have ever worked with.
"Basically in the Under-12s, 13s and the like, if Joe was in the side, we'd win. It was as simple as that.
"He was such a talent that he was too good to play with kids of his own age, so he was always in the teams a year ahead of himself.
"And he was still the best then, as well.
"The thing which really stood out - as much as his ability of course - was how he was prepared to put a shift in, even back then. He'd cover every blade of grass, and was a real team player, which might sound a bit obvious, but as a kid it's a great asset to have that kind of attitude. Joe was out of this world and I remember asking him once how he learned to control a ball as well as that.
"He told me how he'd take a tennis ball to school with him, and dribble it all the way there and back again - a real throwback to the old days.
"But that's just Joe - he loves football, still has the same enthusiasm he showed the first time I saw him, and simply wants to play the game.
"And through it all, he's remained such a great lad as well. If you don't believe me, just ask Peter Brabrook, the former England player who was one of our coaches at West Ham.
Peter was struggling with his knees, and when Joe asked one day how he was, replied that he was on the NHS waiting list and would have them done in five or six months.
"The next day a cheque arrived for about £20,000, with a note telling him to get them done privately.
"Joe didn't do it for any publicity, and he'll probably kill me for revealing it now, but that's him all over."